Walking Through History Springwood Town Centre

Springwood: Historical context

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Aerial view of Macquarie Rd (centre) and the Great Western Highway bypass (right), early 1970s, SHS 679

The area now known as Springwood was originally occupied by the Aurang-ora band of the inland Dharug people.


Crossing the Blue Mountains

On Tuesday, May 11, 1813, Mr. Gregory Blaxland, Mr. William Went worth, and Lieutenant Lawson, attended by four servants, with five dogs, and four horses laden with provisions, ammunition, and other necessaries, left Mr. Blaxland’s farm at the South Creek, for the purpose of endeavouring to effect a passage over the Blue Mountains.

 On 13th May the explorers reached the vicinity of Springwood, “After travelling about a mile on the third day, in a west and north-west direction, they arrived at a large tract of forest land, rather hilly, the grass and timber tolerably good, extending, as they imagine, nearly to Grose Head, in the same direction nearly as the river. They computed it at two thousand acres. Here they found a track marked by a European, by cutting the bark of the trees. Several native huts presented themselves at different places. They had not proceeded above two miles, when they found themselves stopped by a brushwood much thicker than they had hitherto met with. This induced them to alter their course, and to endeavour to find another passage to the westward; but every ridge which they explored proved to terminate in a deep rocky precipice; and they had no alternative but to return to the thick brushwood, which appeared to be the main ridge, with the determination to cut a way through for the horses next day. This day some of the horses, while standing, fell several times under their loads. The dogs killed a large kangaroo. The party encamped in the forest tract, with plenty of good grass and water.”

Extracts from ‘Journal of a tour of discovery across the Blue Mountains, New South Wales, in the year 1813’, by Gregory Blaxland

On 25th April, 1815 Governor Lachlan Macquarie set out with his wife Elizabeth and a party of ten including officers, civil servants and prominent citizens, to travel over the newly constructed road to Bathurst. In his journal he recorded the naming of Springwood, the accompanying artist John Lewin was among the party and painted the scene.

“We then Halted at three O’clock in a very pretty wooded Plain near a Spring of very good fresh Water and Pitched our tents near the side of the Road. This Stage is 12 Miles from Emu Ford and our first on the Mountains – The Place being very pretty I have named it “Spring – Wood”  

Capt. Henry Colden Antill recorded a more enchanting portrait of the location where they lingered until late the following day, in his journal while en route with the Governor:

“. . . After riding 7 ½ miles further we arrived about 3 o’clock at our first encampment, the road tolerably good the whole way from Emu Ford. We found all our baggage, caravans, and servants safely arrived before us, and drawn up in regular order to receive us, which they did with three cheers. . . . After tea, took a short distance in the wood to enjoy the novelty of the scene around me, and this being our first encampment it may not be amiss to describe our situation. We were encamped in an extensive forest of large lofty trees, mostly of stringy and iron-bark. Our party had formed into different groups, each having a large fire of its own. . . . Some were busily engaged cooking, others were smoking, making their huts or cutting down timber for fuel and reminded me, by their various occupations, of what I had read of a camp of gipsies or the bivouac of a continental army.

 “Thursday, April 27th: . . . Before we left the ground, the Governor and Mrs. Macquarie and a few more walked down to the spring where we had been supplied with water, situated about half a mile down a deep glen. In rainy seasons the water might be had much nearer. There appears a water course at the back of the encampment which extends down to a spring issuing from a rock. The water (of the spring first mentioned), is good, but something of a mineral quality. From this spring and the surrounding forest the Governor gave the name of SPRINGWOOD to this station. We did not leave this place till 12 o ‘clock. …”

The Springwood spring, Meg Turner left, Bert Honeysett right (SHS 551)

The spring is still there and may be visited in Birdwood Gully Park on the north side of the Great Western Highway.

Early Days of Settlement

A military post was established almost at once on the south side of William Cox’s newly constructed Western Road in ‘a fine forest of tall trees, with some little grass between’, as Barron Field described it in 1822. Although the first land-grant in Springwood was made in 1834, development of a village did not commence until the 1840s.

The founding father of the village was Thomas Boland, a former constable in the Irish police force who arrived in the Colony in 1838 and came to Springwood in 1843, where he held the position of Superintendent of Road-gangs at the military stockade. The stockade, located to the north side of the road, was discontinued soon afterwards and in 1845 Boland bought the strategically placed site and developed the officers’ quarters into the Springwood Inn, entry below.

With the gold discoveries over the Mountains in the early 1850s, traffic on the western road increased and Springwood soon developed into a busy settlement with consequent growth in population, but still in 1866 it did not rate a mention in Bailliere’s Gazetteer of NSW.

The critical turning point for Springwood, as for other Mountain villages, was the coming of the western railway in the later 1860s. When the track was opened as far west as Wentworth Falls in 1867, Thomas Boland was appointed the first station-master at Springwood and a platform was built in 1868.

During the 1870s the village progressed so that a public school was necessary in 1878 and a police presence in the following year, while postal services had begun in 1877. A new hotel, the Springwood Hotel (later the Oriental) was opened in 1877 and Thomas Boland built the Royal Hotel opposite the railway station in 1881: these two hotels have continued to serve local and visitors until the present day.

Shops began to multiply and wealthy Sydney professional people were tempted to the cool air of Springwood. These country retreats included Charles Moore’s Moorecourt of 1876, John Frazer’s Silva Plana of 1881, James Norton’s Euchora of 1884 and James Lawson’s Braemar of 1892.

By 1888, therefore, Springwood was well established as ‘a favourite resort of visitors to the Blue Mountains’, and its core commercial centre was taking shape along the main road beside the railway (now known as Macquarie Road and Ferguson Road). Churches were soon built, Christ Church Anglican in 1888-9, the first St Thomas Aquinas Catholic in 1892 and the Frazer Memorial Presbyterian in 1895.

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Springwood Map 1882 (PF 671)

The core village contained an interesting mixture of commercial premises, workers’ cottages, churches and quite grand houses. The east end of the present Macquarie Road, the entry to the village from Sydney, was and remains the superior residential part of the area, with its four family homes erected on the 24 hectares owned by the Lawson family, set within the original garden and orchard area of the Oriental Hotel. The land opposite on the northern side of Macquarie Road was an undeveloped part of John Frazer’s ‘Silva Plana’ estate, and remained vacant until the Catholic Church was transferred there in 1919 and Buckland Park and the Bowling Green were established in 1936, entry below.

One’s first impressions of Springwood are exceedingly pleasant, and we can honestly state that subsequent explorations only serve to confirm them. Pausing at the station, which, by the way, is one of the prettiest upon the line, and quite in harmony with its surroundings, one’s eye rests upon a road of a warm red colour and sidewalks shaded with the dense blue-grey foliage of turpentine trees, the scene flanked at each side with cosy buildings of wood and stone. Even the police-station exhibits a display of taste, and everything seems in harmony. Up the road, on the left, is a substantial school-house, from the windows of which issue the sweet sounds of many voices.

 To the right from the station runs a road faced by a few cottages; in the middle distance the pretty villa belonging to Mrs Hoare, set in the midst of garden and green sward, and, further still, a background of forest trees, between which one obtains glimpses of blue mountains.

From The Illustrated Sydney News, 3 October 1889.

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Macquarie Rd 1964 looking west from Raymond Rd, Local Studies collection

Macquarie Road

As far back as 1936 the section of Macquarie Road that passes through the shopping centre was known locally as Macquarie’s road, although it was a part of the main road to Bathurst. Originally it followed closely the 1813 track of the Three Explorers and later William Cox’s road of 1815 and was also known variously as Cox’s Road, Bathurst Road, The Western Road, Main Western Road, Main Western Highway and Great Western Highway. With the realignment of 1968 the highway bypassed the shopping centre and a new name was needed.

The Springwood Historical Society suggested it be renamed Macquarie Road to commemorate the town’s founder; and the section on the north side of the railway line to the Moorecourt Road intersection, to be named Ferguson Road after a local family who operated a general store and blacksmith in the location. The section west of the rail underpass near the railway station had changed from Railway Parade to Macquarie Road in 1945. The new names were officially adopted in October 1969.

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Central Springwood showing Bathurst Rd. c. 1915, Local Studies collection

 The Sites

 Numbers in square brackets following the name refer to the Springwood Historical Society ‘Historical Culture Walk’ brass plaques usually mounted on the kerb, where they exist. Numbers in Macquarie Rd are the corresponding street numbers.

The walk commences at the eastern end of the shopping centre at ‘Glen Lawson’ 100 Macquarie Rd, then continues along the south side of Macquarie Rd through the shopping centre, crosses the railway line at the pedestrian crossing gates, along Ferguson Rd, through the commuter car park and the railway pedestrian underpass then along the northern side of Macquarie Rd to Buckland Park and the War Memorial finishing at the Springwood Sports Club opposite Braemar.

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Danebury c. 1910 (PF 3111)

Danebury, formerly Glen Lawson, 100 Macquarie Rd

The house known as Glen Lawson for most of its existence reflects the coming of age of Springwood as a residential village at the end of the nineteenth century. Glen Lawson has special features, as a grand family and retirement home on a very large urban holding of 24 hectares (60 acres) which was only very gradually over the first third of the twentieth century broken up into spacious residential allotments specifically for members of the Lawson family. The Lawson family, James Hunter, who established a major furniture business in Sydney, and his sons William Maxwell, who contributed his woodworking skills to the Presbyterian Church in Springwood and James Robert, who created the well-known firm of Lawson Auctioneers in Sydney, constitute a significant success story of Scots in New South Wales with residences in the Blue Mountains.

 Glen Lawson was built around 1895 by James Hunter Lawson and his Australian-born wife, Emma Glen, deftly combining the couple’s surnames. James Lawson was a Scottish cabinet-maker, born in Greenock in 1836, who had immigrated to Australia in 1855. He worked initially in Sydney, married Emma Glen of Pyrmont in 1857 and became licensee of the Royal Oak inn in Pyrmont in the following year. He reverted to his original craft in the 1860s and in the 1870s established a successful furniture factory in Newtown, with premises later also in William Street in the city.

The Lawsons prospered and in 1890 purchased 24 hectares (60 acres) of land in Springwood, part of a 32 hectare (80 acre) block owned by Frank Raymond. Raymond had acquired this land, portion 52, later portion 2a, Magdala parish, county Cook, in 1878 and had built the Springwood Hotel on the site of the present Oriental, but left the rest of the land to the east along Macquarie Road undeveloped.

When Lawson bought his 24 hectares (60 acres) of Raymond’s grant, he remodelled the existing hotel in 1890-1 and renamed it the Oriental, while in 1892 he built Braemar as a holiday residence for himself and family immediately east of the hotel, on the western part of the extensive orchard and garden area serving the needs of the hotel.

After about three years, Lawson built a larger house, Glen Lawson, next door to Braemar, which was initially occupied by his married daughter, Flora Urquhart, and subsequently leased to a variety of tenants. Glen Lawson then became the principal residence for James and Emma Lawson until their deaths in 1926.

Although the rates for Glen Lawson after 1907 were in the name of Flora Urquhart, who was by then widowed, she was merely named as heir in remainder and on her death her son Ernest, a local dentist, transferred back these Urquhart rights to James Lawson in 1914. When James died in 1926 (and his widow the following day), Glen Lawson passed to his third son, William Maxwell. The eldest son, James Robert Lawson, had created his own auctioneering business in Sydney in 1886, which still flourishes under the Lawson name, and played only a social role in Springwood. He survived his parents by only seven months.

The new owner in 1926, William Lawson, was a prominent Presbyterian, sixty years of age, who had previously lived in another house nearby, The Knoll, 86-88 Macquarie Road. He was, like his father, a cabinet-maker, and had used his skills to manufacture the fine pulpit, communion table and chairs which still adorn the Frazer Memorial Presbyterian Church at 158 Macquarie Road. He remained a prominent adherent of the kirk and used his own car to drive the visiting supply ministers, during the years 1925 to 1942 when there was no settled minister at Springwood and when he was too old to drive, loaned his car to them instead.

Like his father, William Lawson lived long. Around 1946, when he was eighty, he sold Braemar next door to the Platts, who had been running it as a guesthouse, and on William’s death soon afterwards his son Ernest Alexander leased Glen Lawson to a local doctor, Walter McPherson Roberts, in 1947. After sorting out the estate, the three sons of William, Ernest, who was a postmaster, Raymond Glen, a bank manager and James Alan, a clerk, all resident in Sydney, finally sold the property to Dr Roberts in 1950.

In 1990 Glen Lawson was renamed Danebury, housing the New Danebury Gallery, where works of art were exhibited. The gallery has now closed and the house is once more a private residence, retaining the name Danebury.

Danebury, formerly known as Glen Lawson is probably the finest federation house in Springwood. An excellent example of a federation bungalow, the house features well detailed brickwork, interesting roof forms and fine timberwork. With its neighbouring house Braemar, the house illustrates the good taste of its builder James Lawson and the continued success of the Lawsons in Springwood. The house is also important as one of a group of substantial houses with large gardens on the south side of Macquarie Road overlooking Buckland Park.

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Braemar c.1900 (PF123)

 Braemar, 104 Macquarie Rd [14]

Braemar reflects the growth and maturation of Springwood village in the last decade of Victoria’s reign. As an elegant retreat for a prosperous Sydney family, it is representative of a feature of the Blue Mountains at the time. It is less usual in being superseded quickly by a grander house for the same family next door and in being thereafter leased for half a century by the family as a residence for professional men and their families or as a guesthouse.

When Lawson bought this land in 1890, he acted first to develop the Oriental Hotel into a larger, two-storied building and then in May 1892 he had the Sydney architect G.A. Down draw up plans for a country retreat to be built over the west end of the orchard-garden. These plans and elevation have never left Braemar and show the present house with an extensive service wing at the south-west rear corner which has been demolished and has been replaced by the lending library. The plasterer was George Ismay, the bricklayer A.H. Panton: the plumber and carpenter also signed Down’s plans, but the names are not legible.

Braemar was completed later in 1892 and was used by the Lawsons as a mountain retreat. In 1895 James and Emma Lawson and their married daughter, Flora Urquhart, were occupying the house when the verandah was used for Presbyterian church services pending the construction of the Frazer Memorial Church, but the Lawsons had decided to build next door to the east a grander, permanent home for James’s retirement and when Glen Lawson was completed in 1895 or 1896, Braemar was leased for the next fifty years to a series of tenants.

The first tenant was a nurse, Lonie Treble, a Lawson family friend, who converted the house to a convalescent hospital briefly in 1896-7. After a short reoccupation by the Lawson family – James’s son William Maxwell spent his honeymoon in Braemar in May 1897 – the house was leased to Thomas Garrett, a lawyer who had been an outstanding international cricketer. Garrett and his family used Braemar as their home until about 1907.

In 1908 Braemar was a guesthouse run by Mrs Mulvey for an unknown period. Between 1918 and his death in 1923 Dr Andrew O’Flanagan was tenant, using the house both as a family residence and as his surgery. From 1924 onwards, however, Braemar reverted to being a guesthouse, owned still by the Lawsons, James until his death in 1926 and then his son William Maxwell, until his death in 1947. The successive proprietors of the leased guesthouse were: Gillman (1924-6), Gardiner (c.1927-30), Ireland (1931-8) and Platt (1941-7).

Lionel and Alma Platt were tenants when William Maxwell Lawson died in 1947 and they bought the property from the Lawson executors, continuing to run the guesthouse until old age overtook them in the late 1960s. They lived quietly in Braemar for a while, but sold it in 1971 to a local estate agent, Charles Degotardi, who in turn sold it in 1974 to the Blue Mountains City Council.

The City Council’s library was housed in Braemar from 1974 until 1976, when the rear section of the house was demolished and the present library erected, linked to the 1892 house. When the books were transferred to the new premises in 1976, the Electricity Department of the Council occupied Braemar. After the change to Prospect County Council in 1980, the new organization continued to occupy Braemar until 1984. The City Council then decided to utilize the old house as an art gallery and local studies centre associated with the adjacent library and the official opening of Braemar in its present function was in March 1988.

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Springwood Civic Center 1968, Local Studies collection

 Site of Springwood Civic Centre – now the Blue Mountains Theatre and Community Hub

In 1933 a determined effort was made by the Springwood Development League to secure a public hall for the town. Residents of long standing can recall moves for a hall even many years earlier.

The land was originally purchased by the former Blue Mountains Shire Council in 1938 from the James Lawson Estate for the sum of £800. However disagreement of the local ratepayers as to whether a hall was necessary, coupled with start of World War II, put off further moves for definite implementation.

In 1946 the Blue Mountains Shire Council conducted a poll of the Springwood residents to ascertain their wishes in respect to a proposal for the borrowing of £30,000 for the erection of a Springwood War Memorial Hall, with the result that 180 recorded dissident votes whilst 90 voted in favour of the proposal.

Later that year the Community Centre Committee submitted a proposal for a £10,000 Hall project to the Blue Mountains Shire Council, but consideration of this had to be abandoned because of the post-war restrictions on the use of building materials. At that lime several organisations in Springwood were actively engaged in raising funds for the project. The restrictions on the use of building materials remained in force until after 1950.

Following the rapid development of the Springwood area, the requirements for a larger hall were renewed, and these, together with the mounting inflation that had occurred increased the anticipated cost of the building. However as a consequence of the economic conditions in the 1950s, loan funds had to be applied to works deemed essential such as water, sewerage, electricity and road construction, and money could not be allocated for a hall.

In 1958, a Committee of three local citizens: Ald. E Lesslie. Mr. L Summerhayes and Mr. A Hall was appointed to advise the Council, which then sought approval to borrow funds, to supplement monies held in reserve, and finance which could be obtained from rate revenue sources from the Springwood area to erect a public hall. The design was submitted by local architect Mr. EN Skarratt, at an estimated cost of £40,000 ($80,000). Again, construction had to be deferred because of the lack of loan finance.

Finally in 1964, the Council received Governmental approval to obtain loan funds for the provision of a Hall and Council Administrative Offices, and in November of that year it accepted the tender submitted by Alex Gall (Constructions) Pty. Ltd., the final cost was $168,000. Work commenced on the building in February, 1965 and was completed in February 1966.

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Sir Roden Cutler plants the commemorative tree 1966 (shs 187)

The new Civic Centre was officially opened on Saturday, March 26 1966, by the Governor of NSW, Sir Roden Cutler, who planted a lemon-scented gum (Corymbia citriodora) and unveiled the commemorative plaque and the Springwood Crest, designed by Norman Lindsay. The Springwood District WWI Honor Roll, from the old Springwood School of Arts, was also mounted in the foyer.

Planning for a new civic centre commenced in 2012 and demolition of the old building commenced in October 2013. The new Blue Mountains Theatre and Community Hub opened in March 2015. The original lemon-scented gum was removed due to poor health but its seedlings live on. 

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Francis Smith headstone in Springwod Cemetery (shs 221)

Francis Smith Memorial

Originally in a small park in the front of the Civic Centre, the memorial was unveiled on 5 May 1990. Francis Smith was born in Middlesex in 1793 and in 1813 enlisted in the 4th Foot of the Kings Own Regiment. He fought against Napoleon in Spain and Andrew Jackson in North America. In August 1832 he arrived in Australia and was a part of the convict guard stationed at Mt. Victoria, Coxs River, Emu Plains, Linden and Springwood. He died at Springwood Stockade on 5 May 1836, aged 43. Originally buried at the Springwood Stockade, his headstone was later moved to Springwood Cemetery. Survived by a wife and daughter, his descendants are still living in Australia. The plaque, now considerably faded, sits on a sandstone slab which was moved when the HUB was opened in 2014 and is now located in the native garden at the front right hand side. http://monumentaustralia.org.au/search/display/23051-private-francis-smith

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Francis Smith memorial plaque
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Brig. DJ McLachlan AM, Cdr. 2nd Military Dist., holding Nathan Craig Dubber, youngest descendant of Pt. Francis Smith at the unveiling of the plaque in the park on 5th May,1990. (SHS 168)
Oriental Hotel  c.1920 (SHS 62)

Oriental Hotel [15]

One of the three hotels established in Springwood by the 1880s, the Oriental has local significance as a century-old residential hotel with a restaurant, catering for locals and visitors alike on the edge of the central business district, competing successfully with the Royal. Its significance is enhanced by its half century of ownership by the Lawson family, important as furniture-makers and as developers of their substantial acreage in the heart of Springwood.

In 1876 Frank Raymond built the first hotel on this site, it stood on the corner of his Crown grant of 80 acres, on the main road to Bathurst. It was a single storey building named the Springwood Hotel, not to be confused with the Springwood Inn built I 1845 by Thomas Boland. Raymond used parts of the building as a store, post office and news agency.

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The Springwood Hotel c.1880 (shs 425)

In October 1889 James Lawson (1860-1926) bought part of Raymond’s land including the Springwood Hotel. Lawson saw the commercial opportunities of the old hotel and constructed a much larger two storey building which he opened in 1891, with the new name of The Oriental Hotel, the first licensee was Frank Brandon. However during the economic downturn of the 1890s Brandon became bankrupt and a long line of licensees followed, including around 1916-18 Stanley C Fallick.

In 1891 Springwood had a permanent population of around 400, but by 1900 this was more than doubled by railway work-gangs stationed in the area carrying out duplication of the western railway line, originally opened as a single track in 1867. Over 900 workmen,  including navvies and fettlers, camped in tents in an area known as Canvas Town in bushland on the northern side of the railway station and provided the town with much needed extra business, if at times the hotels became a little rowdy on paydays.

The Oriental was also a venue for balls, dances, social club meetings, pigeon shooting matches, and a rendezvous for search parties combing the bush lost walkers. It has also been remarked by older residents that James Lawson’s Presbyterian leaning encouraged a mainly Protestant clientele to balance to the ostensibly Catholic, Royal Hotel up near the railway station.

James Lawson’s son William Maxwell Lawson owned the hotel for twenty years after his father’s death in 1926 and commenced major refurbishment of the hotel in 1928. William was also a cabinet-maker and donor to the Frazer Memorial Presbyterian Church near the Oriental, both of which contributed to the cultural life of Springwood in their own ways.

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Wally Edwards Oriental Hotel c. 1942 (shs 205)

During World War II children from Sydney’s Burnside Homes in North Parramatta were evacuated to the Oriental Hotel in 1942. The licensee, Wally Edwards, constructed a temporary bar on the corner of Raymond and Macquarie Roads, later occupied by Galivante Men’s shop and now a real estate agency.

The Oriental hotel has aesthetic significance as a surviving substantial Victorian Hotel in the commercial centre of Springwood. While its original highly decorative character has been compromised by various alterations, it does retain its general form and proportions. With its location at a prominent corner in the town, it is a local landmark and is one of the few buildings left in the commercial centre of Springwood which give a sense of the town’s early history.

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Frazer Memorial Church from a post card (pf 2413)

Frazer Memorial Presbyterian Church [16]

Built with a bequest from Hon. John Frazer of ‘Silva Plana’, Hawkesbury Rd. The foundation Stone was laid on 17 August 1895 and the church was opened on 8 December 1895 by Rev. John Walker of Woollahra. It is classified by the National Trust.

The Frazer Memorial church is a striking example of Victorian philanthropy, financed entirely from the generosity of a prosperous Presbyterian businessman in Sydney and his widow, Elizabeth Frazer. It reflects significantly the rapid growth of the Scottish and Northern Irish Presbyterian community in the Lower Mountains in the last years of the nineteenth century.

The trees associated with the Frazer Memorial Church, the Cedar of Lebanon (Cedrus libani) which was grown from a seed brought back from Lebanon by Mrs Elizabeth Frazer, Jacaranda (Jacaranda mimosifolia) and the Illawarra Flame Tree (Brachychiton acerifolius) are of high significance at a local level for their historic association with the construction of the establishment of the Church.

The design of the Frazer Memorial Church is a tribute to the important architectural firm of Slayter and Cosh.

The funds to build this strikingly beautiful church derive from the bequest of 500 pounds and the gift of 1.4 hectare (3.5 acres) in central Springwood made by John Frazer, who died in 1884. Frazer was a successful Sydney merchant. Born in co. Down in 1827 to an artisan Presbyterian family, he had come from Ireland to seek his fortune in Australia along with three siblings when he was fifteen years old. After a period working in the bush, followed by a clerical position in Sydney, Frazer opened a wholesale grocery business in 1847 and never looked back, leaving an estate of £400,000 on his death.

Frazer’s connection with the Blue Mountains began in earnest when he built Silva Plana at Springwood in 1881. This country retreat on the east side of Hawkesbury Road, on a landscaped site of 14 hectares (35 acres) now partly occupied by the Buckland retirement village, was characteristic of the Mountain estates developed in the later Victorian period by a number of Sydney businessmen, politicians and lawyers, including friends of Frazer’s such as Sir Henry Parkes, whose son Varney designed Silva Plana.

In 1884 Springwood had no church of any denomination and Frazer, with the encouragement of his friend, the Revd. James Cameron, a fellow councillor of St Andrew’s College, donated land he had acquired from Frank Raymond’s grant in central Springwood, in a very long narrow allotment, and instructed his trustees to spend 500 pounds on the building of a Presbyterian church there.

There was, however, a long interval between Frazer’s death in 1884 and the opening of the church in 1895. This was caused by the reluctance of his trustees to release the money until it was plain that there were sufficient Presbyterians in the Springwood area to support a minister. In 1893 the first Presbyterian services in Springwood were held under the turpentines on the land donated by Frazer, just where the great cedar of Lebanon stands today, then in the Oriental Hotel and finally in 1895 on the verandah of James Lawson’s Braemar. Attendance increased dramatically from 25 to 50 to 100, and the trustees were convinced, once the local people had guaranteed 60 pounds a year for the minister.

On 17 August 1895 the foundation stone for the church was laid by the sister of the widowed Mrs Frazer, who was abroad at the time. Memorial stones were laid by Mrs Frazer’s sister, the widow of John Frazer’s business partner, William Manson; by Mrs Rayner, wife of the Methodist storekeeper whose premises were just across the road; by Mrs Ellis, wife of John Ellis of Valley Heights, who had signed the building contract on behalf of the church; and by Mrs Flora Urquhart, the daughter of James Lawson, the Scottish cabinet-maker who had built Braemar and the Oriental Hotel, where services had been held in expectation of the building of the church.

The church was designed by the well-known Sydney firm of Slatyer and Cosh, whose plans dated 26 June 1895 survive in the archives of their successor firm, Spain, Stewart and Lind. The original design provided for a porch, with six steps up from either side, but no tower or spire, although a small turret above the east end of the porch was included, but not erected. The vestry was to be at the rear, on the east side, with no chancel. The contractor was Neil Livingston, who worked expeditiously, employing James Wallace Park as stonemason, so that the church was opened only three months later, on 8 December 1895.

Mrs Frazer returned from her trip to Europe and the Near East in 1896, bearing the seed from which the cedar of Lebanon grew beside the church, on the site of the grove of turpentines where the first services had been held. Elizabeth Frazer was not satisfied with the church building, however, As the Lower Blue Mountains Presbyterian magazine commented in December 1945, Mrs Frazer immediately had additions made and the building beautified. The present chancel and the porch and steeple were added.

Further, she sent her gardener [from Silva Plana] to lay out the grounds and plant the trees, which add to the beauty of the surroundings. (Maddock, 35)

These additions were done by the same firm of architects, but now under the name of Spain and Cosh, and by the end of 1896 the church had been transformed into its present appearance. Slayter and Cosh, later to become Spain and Cosh, were important Federation architects. Amongst their body of work was Culwarra Chambers in Macquarie Street, Sydney; Hollowforth in Neutral Bay and Glassyn at Mosman.

The pulpit had been originally designed also by Spain and Cosh, to be carved in stone. The design was implemented but in wood, carved by William Maxwell Lawson, the craftsman son of James Lawson of Braemar.

During World War II the children who lived at the Burnside Homes, the great philanthropic enterprise in North Parramatta owned by the Presbyterian Church, were evacuated from Sydney to the Blue Mountains. Both the Buckland Hospital and the Oriental Hotel in Springwood were requisitioned to house the children and this brought heavy responsibilities to the minister and congregation of the Frazer Memorial church. The evacuation was partly organized by the distinguished theologian, Ronald G. Macintyre, who had been professor of Systematic Theology at St Andrew’s College and was now in retirement in Springwood. Macintyre had already dedicated the present manse behind the church in 1941; in the following year the hall, to the east of the church, was opened by Macintyre.

In preparation for the centenary of the church, a Centenary Restoration Sub-Committee was formed in 1994 and commissioned Graham Edds and Associates of Richmond to prepare a report on the church fabric. On the basis of this report, and with the assistance of a grant from the Heritage Council and a public appeal by the National Trust, extensive conservation works were undertaken in 1995.

The fine decorative stone walling along the Macquarie Road frontage of the church, which had added particular distinction to the environment of the church and the streetscape for over half a century was unfortunately removed in the relatively recent past and replaced with a concrete and pipe fence which is deteriorating.

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W.J. Rayner’s butchery and bakery 1890s (SHS 028)

Old Bakery Arcade, site of W.J. Rayner’s Butchery and Bakery [17]

Elizabeth and William Rayner came to Springwood with their eleven children to set up a General Store in about 1877. They had formerly operated a tweed mill in Penrith that ceased making fine tweed in December 1879. Before the Rayners began their store there had been some kind of store, approximately where Braemar now stands, operated by James Stratton. Frank Raymond, from whom William purchased 40 acres of land, also had a store in his Springwood Hotel. However, Rayner’s Store was a big enterprise, selling just about everything. An 1882 tourist publication stated:

“The general store of Mr W.J. Rayner will be a great boon to visitors, as they can here be supplied at about town prices with every requisite for camping out or arrange for the temporary occupancy of cottages; and no necessity will exist for taking supplies from Sydney.”

The store soon expanded to incorporate a butchery and a bakery, with a large room attached to it, known as Rayner’s Hall. This was where most of the meetings and gatherings of the town were held – the Progress Committee, various Lodges, political gatherings, the Literary and Debating Club and concerts, despite its inadequate size. This continued until 1893 when William found he needed the extra space for his business. Rayner had his slaughter yards at Yellow Rock in North Springwood and prepared tallow for sale from trimmings and poor quality carcasses.

In December 1892 Rayner bought up a shipment of cattle that had been killed and maimed in a goods train derailment just west of Springwood station and proceeded to boil them down at his shop. The weather was hot and the stench pervasive, eau de cologne was said to be at a premium and after two court sessions Rayner was forced to move his operations to Kable’s Spring near St Columba’s, a sparsely settled neighbourhood at that time.

In 1894 –  “Mr. Rayner is constructing a Lawn Tennis Court on his ground adjoining the store, and judging by the labour bestowed on it, should prove a very perfect court.”

The store (demolished 1920s) was on the site of the present Westpac Bank and also served as the town’s first public hall. The butchery & bakery building (built 1890s) was demolished in 1983, the Old Bakery Arcade now occupies its site.

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Macquarie Road 1915, from left: Bludhorn’s Store, Presbyterian Church, Miss Lawler’s three shops, W Player baker, Nosworthy & Bates Store, School of Arts, EJ Ashcroft butcher, Railway Station, Police Station, Post Office, Public School fence. (SHS 173)

Fire was an ever present danger to the mainly timber shop buildings.



On Monday night last, the general store belonging to Messrs Boyle &. Nosworthy, situated In the Main Street, Springwood, was utterly destroyed by fire.”

Destructive Fire at Springwood. (1912, October 4). The Blue Mountain Echo (NSW : 1909 – 1928), p. 8. Retrieved June 7, 2018, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article119296113


SPRINGWOOD, Wednesday.

A fire broke out shortly after midnight in the premises occupied by Mr. W. H. Sawyer, as a drapery and mercery store on the main western road. Owing to the nature of the stock, and to the lack of an adequate water supply, the whole of the stock contained in two brick shops, together with furniture and effects In the dwelling, was speedily destroyed.

The efforts of the bucket brigade prevented the fire from spreading to adjacent shops. It is understood the buildings and stock were covered by Insurance.”

FIRE AT SPRINGWOOD. (1924, January 3). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954), p. 10. Retrieved June 7, 2018, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article16124841

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The School of Arts 1920s (SHS 99A)

Springwood Town Square, site of the School of Arts [1]

In August 1901, a meeting was held in the Oriental Hotel to consider an offer made by Mr. Jas. R. Lawson of a piece of ground to be used as the site for a public hall. Accepting this offer, the meeting decided to erect a building to be used as a Mechanics Institute and Public Hall, the cost of which was not to exceed £350. From this move came the School of Arts and although it was in use in 1908, the official opening by Brinsley Hall, MLA for Hawkesbury, did not take place until 5 April 1913. Fifty-six years later, in 1969, it was demolished and the site became a car park.

In 2002 the upper portion was established as a town square named School of Arts Square. Original plans to incorporate a water feature were modified to a water themed sculpture, this was later removed after it was vandalised. A memorial plaque to local Aboriginal artist, Ian Watson (Bundeluk) is attached to the wall near the community noticeboard. The square is well used by the community for events and meetings. In September 2017 the tree became known as the Love Tree and the focus of community debate leading up to the same-sex marriage plebiscite. The original memorial plaque from the official opening is attached to the tree planter.

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The School of Arts 1965 (SHS 99B)
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The Royal Hotel c. 1900 (SHS 008)

Springwood Newsagent 190 Macquarie Rd

William Honeysett established a business at this address in 1892, later taking on a real estate agency. It changed hands after three generations in 1985 and the Springwood Newsagency still operates from the original premises.

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W Honeysett & Sons Commercial Stores, 1922 (SHS 837)

Royal Hotel [3]

Thomas Boland came to Springwood as superintendent of road gangs after a period as licensee of the Weatherboard Inn at Wentworth Falls. Boland became the most significant of the early developers of Springwood, opening the Springwood Inn in 1845 and acquiring a good deal of land.

About 1870 Boland sold the Springwood Inn but continued to live locally and in 1881 built the Royal Hotel in Macquarie Road for his son, Thomas Edwin, to manage. In the 1891 census the occupant of the Royal is shown as Adam Mutch, along with four males and five females on the night of the census.
The hotel was situated on a large estate, with a cottage on the west side, built by Thomas Boland in 1876, a kitchen garden on the southern side and tennis courts on the east side.  The estate was auctioned by Richardson & Wrench on 11th October, 1889, following the death of Thomas Boland Sr. in March, 1889.

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The Royal Hotel 1920 (PF 4094)

Lot 8 was the site of the hotel and cottage.  This was sub-divided subsequently into Lots 11, 12, 13, 14 and 15, as well as the Lot 8 on which the hotel stands.

Building development on adjacent properties occurred as follows:

Lot 1:  Shop and residence erected in 1897

Lot 2:  Shop and residence, c.1892

Lot 3:  2 shops erected in the early 1920’s

Lot 15: 2 shops erected in 1902, a further shop erected on the west side in 1924

Lot 8:  3 shops and residence erected on the east side of the hotel in 1935-36

Lot 14: Entertainment hall next to Boland’s cottage was erected in 1903, the first moving pictures in Springwood were shown in this building.

The hall and buildings on adjacent sites were destroyed by fire on 3rd August, 1921. A garage was erected on the site until 1964, when the present shops were built. The balance of Lot 14, site of Boland’s cottage, had four shops erected on it in the early 1930’s.

Electricity supply to Springwood was provided about 1924 and town water in either January, 1936 or 1937.

The original Victorian style building appears to have been of rectilinear form, two storey building, with basement. Two storey verandah of cast iron columns and first floor cast iron balustrades on front and rear facades; return verandahs on part of the east side; closed-in verandah on ground floor level on the west side.

Hipped corrugated iron roof, with separated corrugated iron roof to verandahs, with a slight ‘bullnose’ profile.

Two brick chimneys with corbelled brickwork and chimney pots; triangular rendered brick pediment projects above gutter level, with inscription “ROYAL HOTEL A.D. 1881”.

It appears that significant improvements and additions were carried out from the early 1900’s to about 1909 by the then licensee, Mr E. Maidment. The following quotations from the Nepean Times support this:

“J.B. Burrows applied for licence to be transferred to E. Maidment. Sergeant Harris objected to transfer on grounds place was dilapidated and in unsanitary condition. 

Improvements were to commence that day. Mr Maidment swore he had agreed to carry out improvements. 

Fortnight’s postponement in matter given by Bench”.  (11.7.1903)

 Mr Maidment of the Royal Hotel is making some big improvements f at present the hotel is a wreck. Partitions have been removed and others put in also the acetylene gas installed.    According to the plans, the Royal when finished, will be something like up-to-date.”   (6.6.1908)”

The front of the hotel was dramatic in spring time in the early part of the 20th century, with wisteria blossoms:

“It is good for the eyes to behold the Royal Hotel, with its glorious wisteria in full bloom – almost covering the front from roof to ground.”(Nepean Times 10.9.1913)”

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The Royal Hotel 1934 (PF 4096)

A photograph of c.1934 shows a new two storey front verandah, with no return to the east side. The owner of the time was Herbert Tate. This verandah was probably built in the 1920’s.

An ‘art deco’ style facade was installed in the late 1930’s, incorporating a porte cochere, to permit motor cars to unload passengers under cover.

Extensive renovations were carried out in 1974, including modifications to the deck area over the porte cochere and provision of a stair connection from deck to ground level fitted. Ensuite facilities to first floor level accommodation were also incorporated at this time.


The first licensee for the Royal Hotel was Thomas Boland Jnr, from 1881. The licence was transferred to Nicholas Heggarty in 1882.  W. T. Dickson Jnr held the licence from 1884; in 1889 J. Lummins was the licensee, until 4th February, 1893 when F. Mennie (previously Miss Smith) took over.

It is not certain whether the above is a complete list of early licensees, and if there is a gap in the list to when J. B. Burrows became the licensee (at a date unknown) he transferred the licence to E. Maidment in July, 1903.

Again, there is a possible gap in the names of the licensees, until 1920, when records are available:

WILLIAMS, Harry                January 1   1920

SIMONSENS, Christie          February 7 1921

HUGHS, Herbert James      November 16 1925

PIERCE, David                      September 3 1928

DWYER, William                  August 6 1929

HALE, Emily                         December 2 1929

LUMSDEN, Reginald Louis October 20 1931

TATE, Herbert                      April 24 1935

ESTELL, Leah Madge          September 10 1951

TATE, Herbert                      July 7 1952

ESTELL, Leah Madge          September 8 1952

THOMPSON, William          April 15 1953

THOMPSON, Geoffrey         November 29 1973

SMART, James                       1988

MARDEN, Ronald Leslie     October 31 1988

YOUNAN, David                   December 17 1996

Ownership is another matter and in 1906 Martin J. Ryan, a Sydney commercial traveller, acquired the Royal. The new owner promptly built commercial premises, known as Ryan House, on the Royal’s tennis courts (212-218 Macquarie Road, SP 058). When Martin Ryan died in 1924, the hotel passed to his son, a Sydney solicitor, J.C.J. Ryan, who died in 1945. Ryan House now stands to the eastern side of the Royal Hotel and contains several shops.

In 1998 extensive changes took place in the Royal’s fabric and the Brasserie, a new, fashionable restaurant, was opened at the rear of the hotel, with commanding views over Fairy Dell.

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Early view of the Criterion Hotel building c. 1900 (SHS 215)

 Criterion Hotel, site

The Criterion Hotel occupied the building later known as Boland’s cottage where Thomas Boland lived until his death in . It was built in 1876 after Boland’s Inn over the railway line ceased as a licenced inn. The first licensee was John Edwards in the year it was built, in 1877 it was Thomas Haslam. It ceased operating as an inn when the adjacent Royal Hotel was built in 1881. It burnt down in the same fire that destroyed the Springwood Hall in 1921.

The place abounds with cosy picnic grounds, and the Saturday afternoon excursion trains take large numbers to see the magnificent views on the mountains. Various sports, such as cricketing, football, swings, and racing, was indulged in by the excursionists on their arrival, and as an abundance of good cheer was provided at the Criterion Hotel and other places on the ground, there was no cause for complaint. “Railway Excursions.” Evening News (Sydney, NSW : 1869 – 1931) 17 April 1876

“WANTED by a married couple, MANAGEMENT of Hotel ; town or country ; have bar-fixings and household furniture, &c, &c. John Johnston, Criterion Hotel, Springwood, Western Line.” Advertising (1877, June 23). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954), p. 16.

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The Criterion Hotel sitting between the Royal Hotel and the Springwood Hall, 1918 (SHS 178)

Springwood Hall, site

Springwood Hall was built by William Honeysett in 1908. It stood on the site of the later  Kirklands Store. The first moving pictures exhibited in Springwood were shown in this hall, one of the first being  the documentary film of the boxing fight between Tommy Burns and Jack Johnson at Sydney Stadium, Rushcutters Bay, on 26 December 1908 for the World Heavyweight Championship title, which Johnson won.. After the hall was destroyed by fire on 3rd August, 1921, a Garage was built on the site. On 31st October, 1929, the property was trans­ferred from the Estate of William Honeysett to Ted Honeysett, who for the next ten years conducted the business known as ‘The Station Garage and Towing Service’. Later owners of the garage included Alf Aldridge and Stan Johnson.

On Friday evening of last week a send-off was tendered to Private Tom Brett, in the Springwood Hall. Private Brett has been employed as a fire-man at the Valley Heights depot. On learning that he had decided to enlist his mates determined to suitably recognise the event of his departure. NT 29.7.1916 http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-page8960487

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Springwood Hall 1932, Miss Nancy Ireland, centre (PF 3097)

Harvey’s Chemist and Dressmaker, site

Harvey’s building being almost, completed, we shall soon have a chemist and an up-to-date dressmaking establishment. Both are needed here, and are well deserving of encouragement and patronage. Springwood (1922, May 27). Nepean Times (Penrith, NSW : 1882 – 1962), p. 2. Retrieved June 7, 2018, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article104675926


Mr W. J. McMillan, with his wife, who is assisting him, has opened up a delicatessen business in Bathurst Road, Springwood, where the very choicest of goods are available.

Mr. and Mrs. McMillan have been residing at Linden for five years since disposing of their milk vendor’s business in Sydney, and recently purchased from the Harvey Estate a block of four shops in Bathurst Road, Springwood, tenanted by Messrs. E. Oxley(chemist), W. M. George (men’s outfitter), and J. B. Smith (Queen-o’-Hearts Cake Shop). The fourth shop Mr. McMillan has converted for his own business. SPRINGWOOD NEW BUSINESS (1951, September 27). Nepean Times (Penrith, NSW : 1882 – 1962), p. 4. Retrieved June 7, 2018, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article117920852

 Arnold’s Grocer shop, 246 Macquarie Rd

One of the earliest surviving buildings in this stretch of Macquarie Rd. A two storey interwar building with ‘E N Arnold’ and ‘Kinkara Tea’ sign painted high on the western wall, now partly obscured by modern graffiti.

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The Ferns Guesthouse  1910 (SHS 180)

 Site of The Ferns Guesthouse 

the Ferns was built 1883 by John Ogle who lived there with his family, it was later leased by Fanny Smith licensee of the Royal Hotel and later by the Palmer family – Mr Palmer was a school master at Springwood Public School.

Mr Ogle died in 1893 at the age of 39, and in 1897 Mrs Ogle sold it to Judge W  Kippax and family for £750. The Kippax family came to reside in the Springwood area in the late 1890s, taking up residence in The Ferns. A news item in the Nepean Times in July 1897 noted that Judge Kippax had been keeping a boarding house there for the last twelve months and, because he was happy with the business, purchased the property from Mr Ogle.

William Kippax senior had married Elizabeth Robertson in 1849 and eleven children were born. Annie R. was the first, born in 1850, followed by Eliza 1852, William 1854, Elizabeth 1857, Edwin 1859, Frank 1862, Walter 1864, Lizzie 1867, Kate 1869, Norman Surrey 1871 and Elsie May 1874

The 1903 electoral roll impressively listed Norman Surrey Kippax and William Kippax as ‘men of independent means’ while Eliza, Elizabeth, Elsie May and Lizzie were noted as performing mere domestic duties. This seems ironic when one considers that the women of the family, and in particular Lizzie, were the driving forces behind the operation of The Ferns as a guesthouse.

In 1941 Miss Hazel Wordsworth celebrated her 18th birthday there.

In December 1943, Mrs Marjorie Frances Broomhead, wife of Mr John Charles Broomhead, “The Ferns,” Bathurst Road, Springwood, fell to her death from the cliffs at the Gap, Watson’s Bay. She was 34 years of age and had been in ill-health, she left a daughter, Edle.

The earliest recorded proprietress was Miss Kippax followed by Miss Steer, Miss McLellen, Miss Southward and the last known was Mrs Breen in 1938. In the early 1950s it was occupied by Herbert Tully, ladies hairdresser. The Ferns was demolished around 1955. Several commercial premises, including the RSPCA shop and Blue Mountains Credit Union now occupy the site.

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Rest Park 1965, the Subway Store later became the premises of the Blue Mountains Gazette newspaper (PF 561)

Rest Park [4]

This park is situated in Macquarie Road, opposite the subway at the western end of the Springwood Shopping Centre. This land was part of Thomas Boland’s Portion: 1A which he had acquired on 7th January, 1862.

The Boland family in 1885 donated a block of land and the sum of £100 for the purpose of erecting a Roman Catholic Church in Springwood. When Rev. Father McGough took charge of the Blue Mountains Parish in August, 1890, there was an amount of £164 ready for the building of the church.

A contract was let to Mr Frederick Lawrence for a weatherboard, iron-roofed Church 40 feet by 20 feet, with a 12 feet by 10 feet vestry at a cost of £160. A paling fence around the ground cost £20. In January, 1892 the Church of St Thomas was blessed and opened by Dr Higgens, Auxiliary Bishop.

The congregation was small at first but as it grew a larger Church became necessary. The block of land on which the building stood was too small for extensions to be built so in 1918, the present Church site was purchased from the Frazer estate for the sum of £800, and the new Church was erected and opened in 1919.

To provide school accommodation the old building was in 1921 removed and re-erected alongside the new building. (This building has now been demolished)

With the Church no longer requiring the land it was resumed by the then Blue Mountains Shire Council and gazetted for public recreation on 15th June, 1923; the Church receiving 150 pounds compensation.

In June 1924 The Nepean times reported:

The new Rest Park is taking shape and Mr. Jack Johnson, who carried out the improvements, on behalf of the Urban Committee, has done his work well. The Horticultural Society has donated a handsome garden seat for the Park. Who’ll give another?

In September, 1924 efforts were made to lease the land and erect a Soldiers’ Memorial Hall. The Shire Council referred this to the Springwood Urban Committee, who rejected the proposal, stating they had already spent a large amount of money to establish a park on the site.

In August 1947 the Springwood Urban committee remarked that the Shire Council “ in view of the Committee’s frequent requests, has now completed public conveniences situated in Rest Park, for which we express our appreciation.”

The park is now dominated by a massive camphor laurel (Cinnamomum camphora) dating from 1924.

Recent plans to rezone the park for possible development have been unpopular – http://www.bluemountainsgazette.com.au/story/5312025/no-burial-for-springwoods-rest-park-after-all/

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The old Fire Station in 1985 (PF 2332)

Fire Station – 282 Macquarie Rd

This site was originally occupied by the railway station master’s residence. Springwood’s first fire station was in Jerseywold Avenue, this was followed by one opposite the Post Office. It was then bought by the New South Wales Board of Fire Commissioners in 1951 after severe bush fires had demonstrated that the 1937 Fire Brigade premises in the shopping area were insufficient.

In 1951 the building was renovated for its new purpose and a shed was built to house fire equipment. In 1958 a complete remodelling of the former stationmaster’s house was undertaken to provide ‘a modern fire station, featuring washroom, amenities hall, meeting room, kitchen and store rooms’, with a motorised pump and a water tanker housed in another building to the side.

In 1986 the site was cleared and the building, with its foundations, was demolished to permit the construction of the present fire station. This new station, designed by Davey, Brindley and Vickers Pty Ltd of Neutral Bay, and built by Welch Bros of Wetherill Park, was much larger, with space for four fire-fighting appliances, a mess, an activities room, a store, a kitchen and shower room.

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Springwood firemen 1950s (SHS 709)

Site of the Roxy Theatre, Springwood Boys & Girls Club – 288-290 Macquarie Rd

During World War I the Goldsmith family of Katoomba owned the whole of lot 7 in section 1 of the sub-division of western Springwood. They built a cottage on part of the allotment and used the remainder as a wood yard.

In 1923 George Goldsmith jnr and John Ephraim Goldsmith sold the entire allotment to Harry Williams of Springwood, who built an amusement hall on the wood yard site, seating 450 people. Named The Plaza Picture Show, it opened in February 1923, showing films on Wednesday and Saturday evenings.

Later in the 1920s Williams divided the allotment, selling the cottage to the local baker, Henry Taber, and the picture theatre to Mrs Yvonne Saul, who was succeeded in 1930 by her daughter, Miss Lilian Jean Saul. Lilian Saul lived on the north coast of New South Wales, at South West Rocks, and in 1933 sold her inherited Springwood investment to William Woodrick of Haberfield, who was already involved in the cinema business. (Rate Books)

In 1936 -7 Woodrick remodelled the old Plaza (described as a large barn without a roof) into the fashionable Roxy, redesigned in ‘Continental modem style, suitable for Neon and floodlighting’, with a ‘streamlined’ interior and a new front vestibule. The architects for the transformation were well-known theatre designers Guy Crick and Bruce Furse. It was hailed in autumn 1937 as ‘an up-to-date amusement hall… [which] will be the scene of many balls and social functions during the winter. (Nepean Times, 1 April 1937; Katoomba Daily, 30 July 1936)

It is not known when the Roxy Theatre eventually closed its doors as a picture show, but it eventually found a new life as a children’s sports club.

On 12th January, 1956 a town meeting in the Roxy Theatre was addressed by Ald. K. C. Bates. (President of the Blackheath Boys’ Club) who stressing the need for a similar club to be formed in the Springwood District.

The speech was met by great acclamation and the meeting was then addressed by the local Alderman, Ald. Manners on the same lines. It was then moved by Mr F. Watson and seconded by Mr H. Townsend that a club named the Springwood & District Citizens’ Boys’ Club, be formed. This motion was discussed and a suggestion put that the name be changed to read Youth Club, this amendment was defeated by vote and the club was formed. The initial aims to “afford the boys an opportunity of participating in healthy recreation and to be taught the principles of good citizenship.”

By the end of 1956, the club had a large number of boys involved in activities. They were running games nights, Physical Training nights and had three football teams. Numerous Carnival days had been held at Lomatia Park and competitions organised between the club and other clubs, schools etc. Sometime in 1956 activities were switched from the Church of England hall to the RSL Hall.

The year 1958 saw the club grow further in numbers with more equipment being purchased. It also saw the club move its activities to the Springwood School of Arts located in what is now the car park next to the Westpac Bank below the present Town Square.

In 1958, a separate Springwood Girls Club was formed and used the same premises and equipment as the boys club, with which it eventually merged. In 1963 the combined club now known as the Springwood Boys and Girls club, had the opportunity to purchase the now run-down Roxy Theatre. The old theatre needed much work, but by the end of 1963, the club had occupied the building and commenced  activities. In 1964 the club finalised the purchase and this became its new home.

By the 1980s it was becoming clear that old building was inadequate and new premises were needed. Through the strenuous fund raising efforts of parents and volunteers, State and Federal grants and a loan from Blue Mountains Council, a modern purpose built permanent venue, equipped with Olympic standard gymnastic equipment (including a full sized sprung floor) was completed for the Springwood & District Citizens Boys & Girls Club at Valley heights in 1995.

Although the Boys and Girls Club, Roxy Theatre, and the Plaza before it, enjoyed widespread community support as a focal point of entertainment and children’s activities in the Springwood district, the total destruction of the hall and its replacement by the massive Community Health Centre in 1997 have eliminated all traces from the site.

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Homedale c. 1900 (SHS 86)

Wingara Hamlets and the Baptist Church [5]

The Baptist Church is on the site of “Homedale”, built for JB Hoare in 1881. In 1918 this became the Blue Mountains Grammar School. The first headmaster was EK Deane, whose son John took over on his death in 1944.

In 1951 Deane sold his school to the MacLaurin C of E School which had opened in Leura in 1949 and was moving to Coorah, the former home of the Pitt family at Wentworth Falls.

The new name of Blue Mountains CofE Grammar School was adopted. Homedale was converted into flats and later acquired by the Baptist Church.

In 1957 a small wooden church was bought in Sydney and re-erected in the Homedale grounds as the first Baptist church.  The present church was opened in 1965 and, at about same time, the Wingara retirement complex. Homedale was demolished in 1975 to expand the retirement village.

[Adjacent Homedale St runs off Macquarie Rd.]

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Commemoration of the 150th Anniversary of the naming of Springwood 22nd May 1965 at the Macquarie Memorial. Mr T.A. Morony is accepting the Springwood Crest designed by Norman Lindsay (SHS 199)

Macquarie Memorial

In 1937, His Honour Judge Curlewis, the Hon. T.D. Mutch and Mr Surveyor J.F. Campbell. F.R.H.S., at the request of the Springwood Development League, visited Springwood to locate the site of the original Springwood Military Barracks and the spring after which Macquarie named Springwood in 1815.  They decided that the barracks were located adjacent to the residence of Mr W.G. Gibbs of Railway Parade (now Macquarie Road), Springwood and the spring was in Madeline Gully off Boomerang Road.

It was decided to erect monuments at both sites and Mr William Gibbs, retired Gulgong Shire Clerk, agreed to donate a small part of his land (9ft 1in.) to the Blue Mountains Shire Council for the Macquarie Monument in Railway Parade.  The deeds for this portion of land were duly forwarded by solicitors Lawson, Waldron, Edwards and Nicholls to the Council.

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The Macquarie Memorial 1960s (SHS 244)

In March, 1939, members of the Royal Australian Historical Society, invited by the Blue Mountains Shire Council and the Springwood Development League, came to Springwood for the unveiling of the monument by their President, Mr K.R. Cramp.  Also present were Judge Backhouse, Mr Joseph Jackson, M.L.A., and Cr W. Mathews, President of the Blue Mountains Shire Council and Crs A. Hodgson and B. Honeysett.  After the unveiling, the party enjoyed afternoon tea at the Royal Hotel and a trip to the Hawkesbury Lookout.

In May, 1965, the site of the Monument was chosen to commemorate the 150th Anniversary of the naming of Springwood and the President of Springwood Historical Society, Tom Morony, accepted the Springwood Crest drawn by Norman Lindsay.

[Now return to the railway pedestrian crossing gates, cross over to Ferguson Rd. and turn right]


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Boland’s Inn, later named Loorana (SHS 27A)

Site of the Springwood Inn, Boland’s Inn, 8-9 Ferguson Rd [6]

The site on Ferguson Road has special significance for the early development of Springwood, as the location first of the re-sited military stockade and then of the earliest inn within the settlement on the Bathurst road. Stockade sites, with a military presence supervising convicts engaged primarily on road works, are of very high significance at the State level along Cox’s and Mitchell’s lines of road over the Mountains.

As an inn and guesthouse intermittently for ninety years, the site retained a historical presence, strategically located close to the railway station of 1867. Around 1833 the military stockade was moved to this location, where it operated until closing in 1845, at which time its buildings and land were acquired by Thomas Boland.

The buildings on the site included a slab hut with three bedrooms, a sitting room and pantry, a detached kitchen, storeroom and stables. There was a vegetable garden well supplied with water. Boland, with his inn keeping experience and time spent working on the Western Road, could see the need for an inn in Springwood to serve increasing number of travellers on the road to Bathurst.

Boland did not demolish the officers’ quarters, but developed the building so that it ‘had sandstone flags for the floors and the verandah, the kitchen was separate from the house with an overhead cover connecting it to the dining room’. Boland used timber from the barracks to convert the slab building to weatherboard rather than to build from scratch. The stone foundations and cellar which were excavated early in 2003 almost certainly belong to the officers’ quarters.

The stockade had its water supply from a dam of which there are surviving elements on the north side of the present Great Western Highway, in the garden of 1 Boomerang Street, Springwood. The primary function of this dam was to irrigate the military vegetable garden, which was some distance from Boland’s building, so the well in the backyard of 8-9 Ferguson Road was either dug for the convenience of the officers or by Boland after 1845.

Boland licensed the reconditioned building as the Springwood Inn, a single-storey weatherboard on what was then the main road west and is now Ferguson Road: he remained the owner and licensee for more than two decades and many local identities used his facilities, including Sir Henry Parkes and Sir James Martin, as well as the philanthropist, Caroline Chisolm travelling with groups of young women immigrants en route to the interior. In the 1850s large numbers of Chinese diggers camped in the grounds on their way to the gold fields. This period saw the opening of the western railway, with Springwood station conveniently close to the inn, and Boland became the first stationmaster in 1867.

The rail-link to the city encouraged travel, tourism and the construction of holiday homes. The Springwood Inn (usually known as Boland’s Inn) benefited from this increased traffic. Presumably because of diversifying interests and advancing years, Boland chose to sell his inn around 1870, while continuing to live locally, along with Madeline, his stormy petrel of a daughter.

By 1890 the old inn had become a guesthouse, called Loorana, run initially by Thomas Edwin Boland, a son of the original Thomas who died in 1889. Thomas Edwin also ran the Royal Hotel (SP 045), built by his father around 1808. (BMCC Local Studies, Boland file). In the early 1890s Loorana was operated by W. Jenkins and from 1895 until probably 1898 by Mrs Eeg. For a time the guesthouse was unoccupied and used by the Reading Room Group in the township in 1898, but from at least World War I until 1939 it was run by the Johnstone family. (Pam Smith) A photograph of Loorana, in use as a guesthouse, survives from about 1930. (Local Studies, photo 270).

In 1939, on the death of Theodore Johnstone, the building which had successively been the former officers’ house, an inn and a guesthouse was demolished and a single-storey brick cottage was built on the site. The cottage was used as a residence and also as medical consulting rooms until it was demolished in 2002.

Former railway cottages, 1- 3 Ferguson Rd [7]

Built for railway staff, they date from the early 20th century.

 Thomas Boland Place [8]

Thomas Boland has been described as “The Father of Springwood”. He was born in Tipperary in Ireland in 1819 and arrived in Australia with his wife and daughter in 1838. Thomas was a lifelong friend of Sir Henry Parkes, both having travelled to Australia on the same ship but a year apart.

After selling The Springwood Inn he built a residence, “Clearview”, at Faulconbridge and died there in 1889, aged 87 years. He is buried in the Emu Plains Cemetery. The plaque is within the Springwood commuter Car Park which now occupies this space.

[Now enter the pedestrian tunnel and turn left up the stairs to view the station platform]

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Looking west from the station platform c.1910, Loorana on right and Homedale in the far distance, Local Studies Collection

Springwood Railway Station [9]

Springwood Railway Station Group is of state significance as an important railway station for over 140 years with several trains to and from Sydney starting and terminating here.

The first, wooden, railway platform was built in 1867 during construction of the main western rail line. Thomas Boland’s son, James Tanner was Springwood’s first station master.

The main station building dates from 1884 and is the second oldest surviving station building in the Blue Mountains. It is an unusual example of a Victorian Gothic railway station building and  one of three stations in the Blue Mountains dating from upgraded in 1880s, demonstrating increase of tourism activity (the others being Lawson and Wentworth Falls) and is the only station building surviving from this period.

The walls of the original building are Flemish bond tuck-pointed brickwork with sandstone capping to the parapets and sandstone quoins to the external corners and reveals to openings. An arch on the centre of the original parapets has a stone infill carved with ‘ERECTED 1884’. Sandstone finials top the gables and bull’s-eye vents in the gables are edged with sandstone.

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Springwood station 1920 (SHS 835)

Modifications to the building resulting from the duplication of the railway line in 1902 retained the elegant Victorian Gothic character of the station. With the intact lavatory building it is an important element in the chain of railway stations across the Blue Mountains. The size of the main station building and its solid well-detailed construction suggests the growing importance of the village of Springwood in the 1880s. Springwood Railway Station Group is important to the local townscape forming a landmark at the curve in Macquarie Street towards the western end of the shopping centre.

[Now cross under the railway line via the pedestrian tunnel and turn left up the steps to Macquarie Road]

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The old Police Station and lockup 1985 (PF2332)

Manners Park and the Old Police Lock-up [10]

Manners Park has been closely associated with law and order in Springwood from the 1880s until the 1970s. It contains not only the striking little lock-up but also a nineteenth-century underground cistern and the archaeological site of the original wooden police-station, when the first police officer, Constable John Illingworth was in charge.

Early records show this portion No 60 comprising 41 acres being acquired by Crown Purchase on 11 November1875 by Madeline Boland, daughter of Thomas Boland, see entry for Boland’s Inn. However on 5 November 1875 this land had been reserved from public sale to be used for future Crown use, a fact that did not surface during Miss Boland’s acquisition.

On 5th November 1876, this small roughly triangular section was notified as a reserve for public buildings. The Council of Education acquired the eastern part of the land in 1877 to build a school and teacher’s residence. (This area is now a car park). The land to the west of the school grounds was, in 1879, taken up by the Police Department.

Prior to the 1876 notification of the reserve, Madeline Boland had built a cottage named ‘Bonnie Doon’ on the site but was forced to abandon it in return for £50 which she accepted and built a cottage on land to the north of the railway line in an area now called Madeline Glen at the end of Boland Ave. Bonnie Doon became part of the new school master’s residence. In 1892 Miss Boland opened the town’s second grocery shop, the other was Rayner’s store, see entry.

In 1881 Springwood’s first police station was established on the site as a result of lengthy community lobbying. According to local businessman Frank Raymond, Springwood in the later 1870s was becoming a lawless place. He wrote as much to Sir Henry Parkes soliciting his help in a campaign to have a police officer permanently stationed at Springwood. He argued that the increasing incidence of lawlessness warranted a permanent constable and quoted from his sure knowledge cases of several thefts from the railway platform, one stolen horse, one attempted suicide, two cases of insanity, one imbecile, sly-grog selling, larrikinism and the immense problem of deforestation caused by the wood cutters and bush-men. He wrote:

“Unfortunately we a getting a very rough class of men around us in the wood-cutters and bush-men, and this class is likely to be largely augmented by those who will be brought here with the object of getting sleepers for the new railway extensions”.

Raymond suggested that the old Criterion Hotel opposite the railway platform be rented as a residence for the constable noting its convenient position to survey both the road and rail traffic. He begged Sir Henry Parkes to help him “in procuring what appears to me a great boon to the residents of Springwood and its vicinity”

 An Inspector James Ryeland was sent to Springwood in September 1877 to investigate the veracity of Raymond’s claims and the need or otherwise for a permanent station. He reported that he, “found the neighbourhood very quiet and the constable who attends here in duty informs me that he has never seen any misconduct in the neighbourhood nor has any case of petty theft been reported to him “

 The report of this investigation was sent to the Inspector General of Police, Edmund Fosberry, who concluded the investigation by stating,

“The number of residents in the neighbourhood will probably increase and it may become necessary to station a constable there but at present I do not think one as required. A similar application has been made to me from Mount Victoria where I am of the opinion a constable is more needed than at Springwood – but I have not felt justified in complying”.

And there the matter dropped for another two years.

By 1879 the problems that Raymond had referred to had grown worse. Another inspection was made of the town by a Police Inspector to gauge the necessity or otherwise of a permanent police station. This officer found,

“the greatest cause for complaint is from tramps and drunken rowdyism, drink it appears being procured from Penrith. Hotel well conducted the houses are mostly isolated and the principal occupants necessarily away a good deal. Therefore no doubt if a police station has to be established it will give general satisfaction…”

 The principal issue now was where a police constable’s quarters could be found or established in the town. The investigating officer found that there were none to rent and no Government land available in the town with the exception of that part in the possession of the Council of Education. It was described as,

“about 3/4 of an acre, fenced, in a good position with a weatherboard room about 12×12 iron roof thereon and not in use which would make a temporary station for a

foot constable (single man) if the Council of Education would grant the use of the same and give the land or part thereof as a site for a police station”.

 The ‘weatherboard room’ was in fact Miss Boland’s cottage that she had been forced to relinquish.

The matter was discussed at a meeting in April 1879 and the School Board agreed that a portion of the land applied for by the Police Department for building purposes should be granted being 150 feet along the railway fence starting from the angle near the platform (16).

The Board allowed this concession having refused the full 180 feet which had been requested by the Police Department; the difference appears to have been what is now the site of the Post Office which was retained by the School. The site was slightly smaller than it now is; it acquired a portion in 1900 bringing it to the present boundaries. The Council also refused the use of the old cottage which was then moved to the back of the headmaster’s house. Approval for the land grant was given on 12 May 1879. On 13 June 1879 the Under Secretary wrote to the Council of Education to inform it that the Colonial Secretary had approved the offer made by the Council to provide part of its site for a police station.

The site available for the police lacked any quarters or working buildings for the new constable. To remedy this situation tenders were called in March 1880 for the erection of a police station at Springwood. The plans and specifications were prepared by the Colonial Architect and were available to be viewed at both his office and the Court House at Penrith. Neither plans nor specifications for the buildings survive. The successful applicant for the work was F. Staveley. He was notified of his commission by April 1880. Frederick Staveley owned 40 acres in Blackheath, Staveley Pde there was  named after him in 1889.

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The Police Station in 1958, Macquarie Road was at that time the Great Western Highway as the sign shows,  Local Studies collection

The weatherboard building that was erected served as residence, lock-up and police office until 1894 when it was reported that the constable’s quarters were not sufficient for his family and a new detention cell was built separately from the house.

Springwood’s first Police officer was constable John Illingworth, Police records describe him as being ‘5 feet 10 inches tall, with blue eyes, brown hair, fresh complexion and good general appearance’. His religion was stated to be Protestant. John was transferred to the Eastern District on 17 May 1880 and he is understood to have been stationed at Parramatta before his appointment as the first permanent police officer at Springwood in 1881.

Springwood’s first Police officer was born on 20 February 1852 at the village of Springwells, near Keighley, Yorkshire, England. After leaving school he learned the trade of bolt maker in his father’s business, but is believed to have left this to go to sea for some years. Around 1875 he married Frances Mary Grainger who was some two years his senior and their first child, Rosa, was born in 1876, followed by Charley who died soon after his birth in 1879.

The Illingworths decided to make a fresh start in the colonies and John set off ahead of his family, arriving in Sydney in 1879 on the vessel Hankow. Presumably Frances and Rosa followed soon after when John had become established. What John did during his first months in Australia is not known, however on 13 April 1880 he was sworn in as a constable of the NSW Police Force.

During the Illingworths’ years at Springwood two more children were born to them: Ethel (1882) and Bertha (1884). John also involved himself with the small community, serving on a flower show committee with other notable citizens ‘to raise funds to give pupils of Springwood Public School a picnic at a future date’ (Nepean Times, 16 November 1889).

In May 1891 John Illingworth was transferred to Katoomba Police station as officer-in-charge. As a mark of their esteem the citizens of Springwood farewelled him with a function at Rayner’s Hall on 5 June (permission having been first obtained from the Inspector General of Police). Some 30 people attended, and following a speech by Mr Rayner, John was presented with ‘a beautifully illuminated and framed address, accompanied by a purse of sovereigns’ (Nepean Times, 13 June 1891).

John Illingworth achieved fame in what would now be regarded as a somewhat obscure field: the game of checkers or draughts; in Steam’s Book of PortraitsProminent Players Volume II, published in 1898, his photograph is published over a text which states that he ‘is one of the best known players in Australia’. The text concludes ‘Katoomba is a small place and as Mr Illingworth’s occupation seldom permits him to leave there his opportunities for cross board practice are limited. Accordingly he devotes considerable attention to correspondence play, and has probably played more games by mail than any other Australian’.

John Illingworth died in Granville on 3 May 1913 at the age of 61 following his retirement from the Police Force in March 1912. Illingworth Road, Yellow Rock commemorates Springwood’s first police officer.

In 1901, just prior to the duplication of the railway line adjacent, the lock-up was moved four metres farther away from the line and has remained disused for half a century.

Other buildings were added to the Police Reserve over the following years. They
included water closets, a stables, wash house, garage and another cell. From
1939 the site was only used for police administrative purposes; a residence was
rented elsewhere in Springwood. The buildings in Manners Park, except for the
detention cell, were demolished in 1954.

Springwood’s second police station was erected as a temporary building in 1952,
pending the construction of a new station on a site on the eastern side of the post
office (which was never built). It remained in police use until 1982 when the new police station was built across the railway line in Jerseywold Ave. However the old temporary building is still in use as a youth drop-in centre operated by community services staff known as The Mountains Youth Services Team.

Following the demolition of the original police building, the Springwood Progress Association was very active in its efforts to have the site put to some use. This bore fruit for, on the 13th April, 1956, the area became Manners Park, so named after a local resident and alderman of the Blue Mountains City Council, Gunson ‘Gus’ Manners.

The footprint of the original police station is now outlined in brick pavers and a plaque featuring the building of Cox’s Road was installed in 2015. The small stone relic on the southern boundary is the top of the large underground tank, built in 1881, that supplied water to the original police station. The tank is still within the site and is described on the plans as having a capacity of 6797 gallons (about 25,000 litres).

The detention cell is a rare example of its type, the only one listed for the entire Blue Mountains local government area and one of few in the state. It is the most visible, intact relic of the nineteenth century station.

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The taxi rank shelter with George Finey mural, 1991 (SHS 821)

The mature Himalayan cedar Cedrus deodara, was planted in 1978 when the Springwood Neighbourhood Centre opened and was part of celebrations for International Year of the Child in 1979. It is decorated by the local school children every Christmas.

In 1984 the old taxi rank shelter at the western end of the park was painted with a mural by local artist George Finey and later moved further down Macquarie Road to near the new Primary School. It was replaced with the current glass shelter closer to the Post Office.

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Springwood Post Office 1913

Post Office [11]

Postal services took some time to be regularised in the Blue Mountains. The first post office between the Nepean River and Mount Victoria was for railway workers at Wentworth Falls between 1864 and 1868, but the first general postal facility was Valley Heights post office, opened in December 1876.

In Springwood, the few residents, gingered by Charles Moore, petitioned for a post office in 1876 at the same time as the same group successfully applied for a public school. Although the postal authorities in Sydney were less impressed than the school inspector, claiming that there were ‘only five residents at Springwood besides Mr Moore’, a receiving office on Springwood railway station was opened in May 1877 and a postmaster was appointed in 1880, in reflection of increasing business.

The railway station remained the focus of postal facilities for the rest of the nineteenth century. The lamp room was fitted out as a post and telegraph office in 1891-2, but this proved to be ‘damp and unhealthy’ and in 1897 negotiations began to acquire the western 20 metres (66 feet) of vacant land between the public school on Macquarie Road and the police-station beside the railway station. The transfer of land was finally agreed in 1899, when Varney Parkes, son of Sir Henry, was Postmaster General, at the cost of 500 pounds.

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Springwood Post Office 1985 (PF 2332)

Tenders for a post office building were called in July 1900 and the successful contractor, J. Beaumont, completed the work on 24 January 1901. It opened for business on 5 February 1901. A shelter shed for letter-carriers’ horses was completed in the following June and the back verandah was enclosed at the end of 1903. From 1912-1965 it also housed the manual telephone exchange.

The Springwood Post Office is much altered from its original 1901 form. It is inter-war in character with only a few hints of its federation origins. The building has a hipped roof wing fronting Macquarie Road with a rear hipped roof wing facing east to the adjacent carpark. The entry to the present office is through the verandah on the east side of the rear wing, despite the recessed porch off Macquarie Street. A rear hipped roof wing with a corbelled brick chimney could be a survivor from the 1901 post office, along with a gabled building in the rear yard. The building retains significance since it has never ceased to be a post office. In a central location in the main shopping area of Springwood, the post office retains an important part of the community.

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Springwood Public School, Empire Day 1910 (SHS 074)

Site of First Public School, now Council Car Park [12]

The first school opened here in 1878 when Springwood’s population was about 200, mainly railway workers and small land holders. Mr C.F. Schowe was the first teacher. The present car park area was the school playground. The weatherboard Scout & Guide Hall was a classroom building moved from its original position facing the street in 1960. The present primary school in Burns Road was opened in November 1954.

In 1876 there was no government school between Penrith and Mount Victoria. The Springwood local community, headed by men like Charles Moore and Frank Raymond, was the first Blue Mountains group to make application for the establishment of a school. The minimum number of school-age children to justify the creation of a government school was twenty: Springwood claimed 49 such children within 3 kilometres of the railway station. The Inspector of Schools supported the application and the Council of Education accepted his recommendation in 1876.

The preferred site was in a small reserve just to the east of the railway station and south of the railway line. There was, however, already a house on this land. Madeline, daughter of the prominent local innkeeper and entrepreneur. Thomas Boland had acquired the land by conditional purchase in 1860 and built a cottage called Bonnie Doon. Amid much acrimony, the house was demolished, with money compensation of ten pounds to Miss Boland, and the police station and lockup were erected on the site, while the schoolmaster’s cottage and the classroom were completed on the garden site to the east in 1878. Springwood’s population was then about 200, consisting mainly of railway workers and small land holders. Mr CF Schowe was the first teacher appointed.

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Dumbbell exercises, Springwood Public School 1910 (PF 2404)

The population of Springwood continued to grow and an extra classroom was built in 1880, but with the successive establishment of schools at Katoomba in 1881, Wentworth Falls in 1887 and Glenbrook in 1892, pressure on Springwood school subsided for two decades. A third classroom was needed in 1915, built of stone, to accommodate 124 children, but this number was soon exceeded and in 1928 another classroom had to be added.

After World War II the population of Springwood soared and the site was incapable of sufficient expansion. Accordingly a new site was acquired in Bums Road and in 1954 a new double-storied school was opened, with capacity for 450 pupils.

The old school buildings and the residence on Macquarie Road were demolished, with the exception of the 1928 weatherboard classroom, and a Baby Health Centre erected on the eastern part of the site. The 1928 classroom remained on the site until 1960, when it was moved to a position immediately east of the carpark. Title was transferred to the Boy Scouts in May 1960. The building was used by Girl Guides also after 1962, but in 1994 the old classroom was severely damaged by fire.

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Hurley’s delivery trucks 1935 (PF 3124)

Hurley’s Butcher Shop, 153 Macquarie Road

 William Dudley ‘Advent’ Hurley was born in Hunterville New Zealand, the son of Jeremiah and Mary (nee Dudley) Hurley. He was born on 25 November 1887 and was commonly known as either Bill or Dudley. William’s early days were spent in New Zealand and his family has been told that he was a member of the New Zealand Army Reserve, although this has not  been confirmed. He was brought up on the family property that comprised sheep and cattle.

William is thought to have migrated to Australia around 1912, looking for relief from an asthma and bronchitis condition, brought on by the extreme cold. He settled in Katoomba where he met his future bride, Esther Grace Rossiter. The couple married at St Canice’s Catholic Church, Katoomba on 10 June 1916. The family believes that during these years William worked in Katoomba at Muir’s grocery shop, and James Bros Butchers, where he did the deliveries. In the 1920s he operated a butcher shop in Wentworth Falls and the growing family lived in premises above.

In 1921 William was said to have had a vivid dream about a horse named ‘Sister Olive’ winning the Melbourne Cup. So confident was he that the day before the race he took all the family savings, took a train to Sydney and placed a bet with a bookmaker.

The family relates that the lack of a radio meant that William was forced to wait for a telephone call from a friend in Sydney. When the result came in it meant that William was richer for eight hundred pounds because the horse, ‘Sister Olive,’ had in fact been the winner of the Melbourne Cup. William, on the strength of his win, decided to retire and the family went to reside in a house called ‘Te Kooma’ located in Bathurst Road (now the Great Western Highway) Katoomba. Later, he went on to build two more homes on the same road.

In 1925, finding retirement not to his liking, William purchased the butcher shop in Springwood, then owned by the Delaney Bros. At first the family lived in the small residence behind the shop, before moving to a cottage named ‘Kirkstall’ in 1928. This was located on the site that today holds Festival IGI Supermarket adjacent to the old school site, now the council car park. Extensions were then made to the shop and residence. Ted Hurley was born in the cottage in 1929.

Refrigeration was fairly basic then and consisted of ice blocks placed on top of the cool-room. William collected meat orders from around the town then telephoned a Sydney firm who would send the meat by train. The meat was then delivered by means of a horse and cart. In 1930 an ammonia refrigeration plant was installed which in 1949 was changed to gas as it was more economical.

In 1932 William bought a Dodge truck and twice a week would drive to the Sydney Meat Preserving Company in Auburn to collect his orders. In later years this changed to the abattoirs at Homebush where he would collect the carcasses for preparation in the shop. William purchased a Whippet truck in 1934 to make home deliveries, which his four sons used when they joined him in the business. Dorothy assisted with the accounts until she entered the Sisters of Mercy in Parramatta in 1943.

William foresaw the coming of World War II and took the opportunity to purchase bulk quantities of items such as sausage skins. He imported spices, white pepper and so on from France because they made for top quality sausages. William also purchased grease proof paper in bulk and had enough of these items to last him an anticipated four years. However, the influx in population during that time meant that his stock only lasted two.

Buckland Nursing Home was a regular customer from the time of its opening, as was St Columba’s Seminary until it closed in 1977. Silva Plana Convalescent Home, the Oriental Hotel, Braemar Guest House, the Springwood Church of England Boys Grammar School and Bluegum Lodge were all regular buyers. William was a member of the Urban Committee before the inception of the Blue Mountains City Council was formed and was active in the Springwood Country Golf Club. This was at the time when the course was only 9 holes and known as Springwood Golf Club Links Limited. The Bill Hurley Shield is still played today.

In November of 1949 William died of heart failure due to bronchial asthmas. He was aged 62 and was survived by four sons, one daughter and Grace his widow. Following his death Grace played a major role in running the business with Frank (Francis) as manager. She remained in this role as cashier until decimal currency arrived in 1966.

In 1985 William’s son Frank retired and it was decided to sell the business at Winmalee, so Ted and Molly purchased Frank’s share of the family business. Ted, Molly and Bernard operated the Springwood shop, and Bernard eventually shared the management of the shop with his father. In 1993 Bernard left to pursue other interests and Ted and Molly continued until their retirement in 1994.

The business was then sold to Max and Geraldine Richardson. Geraldine was the proprietor of the coffee shop known as Geraldine’s on Raymond, located in Springwood.

Until recently the shop still traded under the name Hurley’s Butchery, it has been a family owned and run business for over 90 years.

Telecom Park

Developed in front of the telephone exchange, this small park contains the ‘Footsteps in Time’ marker showing a point on the 1814 survey by George Evans. The survey mapped the 1813 explorers track and was used by William Cox to construct the 1815 road to Bathurst. Carried out as a Bicentennial project, this is one of fifteen monuments between Emu Plains and Mount York, each bears an extract of his diary entry for the location.

Also on a sandstone rock is a plaque commemorating the 175th Anniversary Naming of Springwood – http://monumentaustralia.org.au/display/101980-175th-anniversary-naming-of-springwood

A third plaque refers to Simon’s Place, named in memory of Simon Cook who tragically lost his life in 1987.

The park was extensively renovated in 2018 with new turf, garden beds, edging and seating.

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Baxter Memorial Gates 1968 (Local Studies collection)

Buckland Park, Springwood War Memorial and Dr. Baxter Memorial Gates [13]

The park represents the only part of substantial open space remaining from John Frazer’s Victorian country retreat, Silva Plana. It remains open space because the Blue Mountains Shire Council had the foresight in 1936 to purchase much of the 4 acres to endow a public reserve in honour of Sir Thomas Buckland, who had just completed the endowment of the Buckland Convalescent Hospital on Hawkesbury Road and who lobbied for and obtained the town water supply in Springwood in the 1930s.

The entire area south of the railway line, north of Macquarie Road and west of Hawkesbury Road was originally part of Silva Plana, the country retreat of John Frazer, one of the wealthiest businessmen in Sydney in the mid-Victorian period. Before his death in 1884, Frazer had shown himself an outstanding philanthropist, generous to the University of Sydney, to St Andrew’s College and to the city of Sydney (where his great fountains in Hyde Park and in the Domain still play). He left money and land in central Springwood for the establishment of a Presbyterian church, finally opened as the Frazer Memorial Church in 1896, so the Frazer name continued to resonate in the area.

In 1918 the Frazer trustees sold the eastern portion of the land south of the railway (now identified as 73 -77 Macquarie Road, lot 1 in DP 801908) and the Catholic trustees proceeded to erect St Thomas Aquinas and the Angels Guardian Church. The remaining Frazer estate south of the railway was purchased by the Blue Mountains Shire Council in 1936 and was named Buckland Park. At the same time Springwood Bowling Club was formed and created its first green on part of the parkland: its initial patron in 1937-8 was Buckland.

The Red Cross Hall was built in 1995 to replace a small timber building which previously occupied the site of the adjacent link road.

The war memorial was re-located and upgraded from its original site in the front of the Old School of Arts building in 1964.  The old memorial with its trophy machine gun, was dedicated by Sir Walter Davidson in 1923, and stood proudly in its original position for forty one years. The present day War Memorial is located behind an impressive set of gates at the entrance to Buckland Park in Macquarie Road, unveiled by Mayor Tom Hunter on April 21, 1967.

Unlike the original sandstone pedestal that held the enemy war trophy gun, the present memorial carries no potent symbol of war.  The cenotaph consists of a stone pedestal, said to have been fashioned from the sandstone of the original memorial, with a thin arch of stone where once the trophy gun stood.  The arch holds the Flame of Remembrance and emblazoned on the front are the words ‘Lest We Forget’ A granite plaque announced that the memorial is in ‘Memory Of Those Who Gave Their Lives In The Service Of Their Country,’ thus it does not discriminate between gender or rank or indeed war.  It is a memorial that honours all those that have fallen in the name of military service.

It is perhaps unusual in that it contains no names, dates or honor roll*, but perhaps what it lacks in sophistication speaks volumes about the feeling of the community at that time because of an impending war in Vietnam and Australia’s inevitable commitment to the United States.

*The World War One Honor Roll was moved from the old School of Arts to the foyer of the Springwood Civic Centre and is now displayed on the upper floor of  the new HUB building which replaced it.

The Dr Baxter Memorial Gates rest on sandstone pillars removed from ‘Moorecourt’, the historic home of Sir Charles Moore on the Great Western Highway, built in 1876 and after Moore’s death in 1895, the home of Springwood Ladies College, demolished in 1958.  Moore had originally acquired some of the sandstone building blocks used in ‘Moorecourt’ from the convict lockup on Pulpit Hill west of Katoomba, which dated from the 1820s.

The gates were designed by the artist Wynn Davies, after whom Davies Ave, Springwood is named; and pay tribute to popular Springwood doctor, Ernest Joel Baxter (1902-1950) who had become famous at the scene of a railway accident in which he crawled under an overturned carriage to carry out an amputation to free an injured passenger.

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Springwood Bowling Club 1968 ( Local Studies Collection)

Springwood Bowling Club, Springwood Sports Club

During the few years after 1936 the Blue Mountains Shire Council developed Buckland Park and created a children’s section, bowls section, club house, tennis courts and a park in front of the tennis courts. The tennis courts were actually built in 1939 and the bowling greens completed in 1937 with officers for the Bowling Club being elected in July of that year.

The Council made available a piece of land on lease and further assisted with the finance in the form of a grant and a loan for the purpose of erecting a Club House at a cost of approximately one thousand pounds.

The first full committee was elected for the 1938-1939 year and was headed by: Patron – Sir Thomas Buckland; President – O H Little; Vice-Presidents – R G Maclntyre, DD CMG; and E J Baldwin ITO; Secretary – A Gaskill and Treasurer – W Cheadie.

The original Club House was constructed of a timber frame with a tiled roof. Efforts by Members and wives in the promotion of dances, card parties and other social functions resulted in the raising of finance for furnishing the Club House and the laying down of the two greens.

In 2007 the club commenced redevelopment and in 2009 the new Springwood Sports Club officially opened. During the catastrophic 2013 bushfires the Club played an important role as an evacuation area and refuge for many of the residents of North Springwood and Winmalee who suffered property loss and damage.

[Congratulations you have completed your tour through the recent history of the commercial area of Springwood.]


A shorter version of this walking tour was originally prepared by Local Studies Librarian, John Low. The present notes utilise information from various sources including: Springwood Historical Society, The Springwood Historians, Trove Newspapers, NSW Office of Environment & Heritage, and the Local Studies Section of the Blue Mountains Library.

For more information please contact the Local Studies Librarian at Springwood Library

Useful links:

Blaxland’s Journal

Blue Mountains Library

Crossing the Blue Mountains

Springwood Historians

State Heritage listings


John Merriman

Local Studies Librarian, 2018



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